The best advice I can offer at the beginning of the year is something I heard from a church leader when I was beginning to teach, "It's not what you know, it's who you are." I didn't exactly understand it at the time, but over the years I have seen and experienced the wisdom of these words. Many times, when we adults are preparing to teach the year, we get too caught up into choosing and implementing the best curriculum and we forget what is most important. Ten or twenty years from now, our student's main recollection of learning from us will probably not be how much knowledge we imparted onto them, but instead, they will remember our character or lack thereof, our gestures, and our smiling or grumpy face. At this time of year, my strongest recommendation I can share with all teachers is to focus most on trying to be the best person that you can be. Even though you may be a little tired or stressed, even though you may be learning something new in order to teach it, remember that the children in front of you will be most positively affected by your kindness, your patience, and your smile. If you are attempting to give to your children a strong faith in Christianity and in a loving Heavenly Father, this is the greatest time of year to show to your children that even though you may feel overwhelmed by your work, you will not let this feeling get in the way of you doing your best job teaching. If you are not Christian or do not believe in God, then this is also the best time of year to show your children your patience and care for them, even though you have so much to do.
I have a very independent 8th grader. My only worry about your course is that it seems teacher intensive. Is this true?
The only work that involves the teacher is to watch and learn from DVD 1 and 2. DVD 1 is 20 minutes, and DVD 2, the tools of the historian, is about 1 1/2 hours. Once you understand the method, then the student completes all other work on his own throughout the year. He will meet with you to report research and to express his perspective and back it up with evidence. If he is learning the Ancient or Medieval Civilizations curriculum, then he can watch the discussions on our DVD program. The American program will have the DVD discussion by summer 2013.
How hard would it be to take your American Government and Economics course and design it to cover only Government and Economics, leaving the history out?
Our course should not be changed to omit history from it, and we designed it this way on purpose. The student learns the benefits of a Constitutional Republic and capitalism through the evidence that history has provided us. Also, the text written by Larry Schweikart is so good and unique, that your student may never get the opportunity to read this perspective again. If you have a full year to devote to this topic, then I strongly recommend that your student does not learn Government and Economics separated from the historical experience of the U.S.
We are planning on teaching our son so that he can pass the AP history exam in Modern American History. Is your curriculum rigorous enough?
Our high school history courses are very rigorous and are appropriate for students wishing to take the AP tests. You would have to ensure that your student is practicing timed writing.
As a busy home school mom, I would ideally like to fin a teacher who could use this curriculum. How hard would it be for me to learn how to teach it?
Becoming fluent with the curriculum happens when you use the curriculum along with your child. It does not require much or any outside time.
My son is 10 and will be 11 when we start the curriculum. If he would study Ancient, Medieval, and then American, would that be considered a complete World History after three years?
*No. The Modern World and Modern American we save for high school age
I like to study history with my 9 and 11 year old daughters at the same time. Is the Classical Historian curriculum too hard for a 9 year old? Marlene
Thank you Marlene!
The reading, thinking, DVD lessons would not be too much for a 9 year old girl, especially when she is in a class with her older 11 year old sister and led by her loving mom. When it comes time for the 9 year old to express her thoughts in words and writing, I would strongly suggest that the teacher be very patient and gentle.
I haven't done much Socratic discussion so think of me as a novice. Can I learn this method and use it well?
The Teaching the Socratic Discussion DVD program was created for the beginner. If there is a fault with the program, it might be that there is some repetition in the introduction and introductory chapters of the binder, in order to teach the teacher who does not have much experience with this type of learning. Also, we at The Classical Historian are available for any tutoring help you may need in implementing the program. We are eager to help home school moms and classroom teachers. Any help you need will be given to you. However, please know that this program requires thinking and intellectual work on the part of the teacher. You will not be able to "push play" and have the child succeed. It is an interactive program and requires student-teacher interaction. To have it succeed, the teacher has to invest some time. My family uses a math curriculum where our children can push "play" and it works. However, with the Socratic discussion, it requires a caring teacher who asks good questions and gets the best out of their children or students.
Some students are frustrated they cannot find all of the anwers right away for the Take a Stand! books. What do I do?
I've noticed that with my new students, it takes a few assignments before they feel like everything is going well. New students don't seem to get it until after a few assignments. Before that, they are always asking, "What's the answer?" Maybe this is the same feeling that a few of your students are having. There is no "one" answer with open-ended questions, and this may be the main issue your students are going to have to understand, but it will take time. As far as the graphic organizers are concerned, it may be that students are not used to pulling out the most important information from a non-fictional text. This takes practice, and it is not always easy.
For the first writtten assignment, I strongly recommend that you write in class. Review with the students possible correct essays. The main thing with the first or second assignment, is that they see the possible different answers and learn how to support their answers with evidence. Make the first draft a rough draft. Read it but don't put a grade on it. Let the students rewrite it.
If you are beginning class in September, everything seems to calm down right before Thanksgiving.
How do I encourage my daughter and point our her writing errors? I am worried about destroying my daughter's confidence, but want her to write without grammatical errors.
The other day a friend asked me how she could tell her daughter that there were many grammatical errors in her writing piece, but that the content was exactly what she was looking for. The mom was worried she might step on her daughter's self-confidence as a writer. This is how I approach this situation. I would say this to the student, or to my child, without showing them the paper with my corrections on it, "You have done an excellent job in writing the content part of this paper. Congratulations! You grasped everything I was looking for, and I am very impressed at how you think and how you express your thoughts on paper. Now, there are some minor errors that we need to look at and you need to fix. If you don't fix these errors, another reader may not be able to see your great thinking process, because they will be stuck trying to figure out what you're trying to write." I would then take out the essay, which would have my corrections on it. During the first part of my talking, I would try to smile and physically show approval so the child feels honored....With analytical writing from ages 11 or 12 and older, I prefer correcting all grammatical and spelling errors, and making the student rewrite the piece so in the end, the student has a perfect paper. But, if possible, I try to have the student do most of the work.
Teaching with the Take a Stand! series helps me get to know my children and students better and it helps them how to think critically, form historical judgement, and express themselves in speech and in writing.